When looking for a good brawler, you can’t go without mentioning what in my mind is the king of brawlers, the Streets Of Rage series. There is something special about this series, and the first game in the series sets up a good rhythm of where is goes.
The first Streets Of Rage came out around 2 years after the Genesis first launched and featured some amazing visuals and music for 1991. The graphics were dark and colorful at the same time. There is a decent amount of detail in the backgrounds of the game, the pop out a lot, especially compared to the other titles at the time. You have three separate characters to select from, Adam, the Power Character, Axel, the well rounded balanced character, and Blaze, the speedy character.
I always used Axel as a kid as he was the cool looking one. WIth his bandana, and white shirt and Blue jean combination made him look “rad”. Plus you don’t feel like you are sacraficing anything when picking him. Blaze and Adam are fine, but Axel is clearly the main character on the front of the box, jump kicking fools and thugs in the head.
The gameplay is simple but effective and most of all fun. You have Jump, Attack, and Special. Jump and Attack can also be combined to allow for a jumping knee attack, which works really well when you are cornered by one bad guy and have two others closing in on you. You can gain some distance and also inflict some damage as well. The attacks see basic at first, but add more than just the 1-2 punches. If you get close to an enemy, you can grab them and either knee them in the stomach a few times and knock them back, or if you push in the opposite direction, you can hurl them over your shoulder, and possibly send them flying into a group of attackers trying to get the jump on you. It seems both extremely basic and a bit varied for a simple brawler, and it is. There isn’t any elaborate combos, but still feels satisfying. The Special can only be used once per life, and you have a large icon near your life meter telling you how many you can have. They sprinkle a few icons around the game, but they are few and far between. I rarely used them through the first 2/3rds of the game and only really spammed it at the end, with the elevator sequences with multiple bosses and mini-bosses that you encounter in the last stretch of the game.
Streets Of Rage is a solid game that is worth playing, if not just to see where the series got its start. It’s a solid base line entry that set the stage for what I think is the King of Brawlers: Streets Of Rage 2